Monday, July 16, 2012

Tool #11

The tools I see myself using the most over the school year are:

  • blogs- communication with and among students, communication with and among other educators
  • Google docs- students all already have accounts so this is an easy place to start
  • PhET- great simulations for chemistry concepts that cannot be seen by the naked eye
  • Today's Meet- a way to have class discussions as students travel around stations
Through this training I have realized that I want technology to become a part of the daily routine in my classroom and not just events. I realize that I have to take the time to plan to incorporate technology it will not just happen. There must be thought, organization, and time in my plan to make it become integrated into the class. I believe I am willing to do this.

I did not have any big unexpected outcomes except that technology integration is one of my new goals for the year. I am hopefully that it will help to make my classroom more student centered and differentiated.

11 Tools are complete!

Tool #10

Things I want to students to remember about digital citizenship:

  1. Whatever you post/write/text/email is permanent. Someone can track it down.
  2. Do not believe everything you read. Make sure check the source of the information. And always give credit when credit is due.
  3. Cyberbullying is NOT okay. Please report it.
I could see myself using Common Sense as a resource when teaching students digital citizenship.  I like how you can search by topic and grade level to find what is appropriate for your particular lesson and students.

I believe that Digital Citizenship should be taught in context with your lessons. If you are starting a research project, it would be an appropriate time to discuss how to find credible resources and how to give people proper credit for their ideas. If you are starting an online discussion with students, it would be appropriate to have a discussion about appropriate and inappropriate comments, especially about how to disagree appropriately.

I think that biggest thing to communicate with parents is which online tools you are using with your students and make it available to them as well. It is also important that you communicate that you wish they would help the students here a similar message at home about appropriate on-line behavior.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tool #9

It is important to tie your technology to your objective because technology is not the end goal the content is. Technology should be used as a means for them to learn the content of your classroom and is not itself the learning goal. If you do not keep the technology congruent, you may end up with many tech savvy student in your chemistry classroom that know nothing about chemistry. 

Most likely your goal at having stations in your classroom is for students to discover, learn or practice something. Since you cannot be at all places at once it is important that students are held accountable. This can be as simple as writing a sentence about what they learned or contributing to an online discussion through a back channel like Today's Meet. Your goal of holding them accountable should be that you are gaining some type of formative assessment. Something that tells you as the teacher what they have gained from the station and where you should go next in the classroom-- either moving forward or filling in the gaps or answering questions student's posed.

I really like the PhET simulation and already use several in my classroom. They are great to use in chemistry because they help students visualize concepts that happen at the atomic level and cannot be seen. These simulations can be used at a station where they can manipulate the simulation and then answer some follow up problems to check for their understanding or have them describe their learning of the concept. 

I also liked learning about the SBISD interactive database. Obviously, this is not a place to send students but I can go back throughout the year as a teacher and discover more useful website for my students. I can see this being very beneficial because it is hard to store all of the Web 2.0 tools available in my brain. I am glad to know there is a helpful resource for me. 

I am struggling to find very many Chemistry specific apps. There are a couple formula writing apps out there they can be good for student practice. That is an easy station for when students need repetitive practice. Also, there interactive Periodic Table apps they I will definitely download because students always need access to the Periodic Table to reference while working problems.

Another app that maybe useful is the Whiteboard Free app. I could see students illustrating a chemical bond or a molecular picture and being able to share it with me an other students. In chemistry, drawings and models can be very important to help assess student understanding of a concept. 

I am still exploring uses of iPads in my classroom, but I am challenging myself to make them an useful and integral part of my room. I can see them being video recorders, communication devices and more. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Interesting article on homework...

Here is an interesting article I found posted on homework:
Show us What Homework is For by Kathleen Cushman

Tool #8

Things I learned:

  1. How to take a picture and video on a Netbook
  2. How to sync my laptop and iPad
  3. About a website that can be a very useful resource:
Managing Devices

  1. Plan to label them and store them in a central location
  2. Plan to count at the end of each class period when using them
  3. Use as stations in a lesson rotation
  4. Assign to specific groups if using all of them at the same time

Tool #7

I think technology can be a great way to be able to collaborate with different classrooms. One way in which I believe it can be beneficial in science classroom is through lab data. I believe that sharing lab data collected in different classrooms can be a great way to reinforce the ideas of validity, the need for multiple trials, the need for reproducible procedures, etc.I feel like I could collaborate with any of the other chemistry teachers on our campus and could possibly expand to other chemistry teachers in the district.

Identifying unknown chemicals:

  • Objective: Students will identify unknown chemicals by testing different intensive properties of the chemicals.
  • Implementation: This lab would occur during the first 6 weeks when we are learning about how to identify different properties of chemicals.
  • Tools: Google docs and spread sheets to record data, a back channel for discussion, video sharing or voice threads to allow different classes to hear a lab groups discussions and show procedures used during the lab.
  • Plan: Students would be given 4-6 chemicals that they would be asked to identify. Students would use different lab techniques and observations  to identify intensive properties such as density, melting point, color, etc. They would also be given reference materials that would be there to compare their data to for the identification process to happen. Students would be require to validate their data and identification using their data plus 3 other groups from a different class.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tool #6

I created a wall on Wallwisher. I like how easy this website is to use for both the teacher and the student. I could even see students creating their own questions for students to answer. I am trying to focus on centering my classroom around Big Questions and can see this as a way to see students thoughts and deeper understandings as we go through a unit.

Here is the example of the wall I created for the first Big Question of the school year.
What is the world made of?

I also created a discussion in Today's Meet. I think Today's Meet could be a great way for groups to discuss topics. And have the discussion run between class periods. I think it could be a great way to have communication and allowing more students to have a voice, espcially students that don't like to speak up in class. It could be interesting to save the dialogue all year and see how the class discussion evolves.

Here is my "class" I created.

Another site I am excited to try and use is VoiceThread. I think it will be a cool way to again encourage student feedback and discussion. I am looking forward to creating different VoiceThreads for the different units I will be teaching throughout the year. I think it will be a good way to encourage students to discuss graphs, experiments, videos and text.

RSA Animate and Drive

I have been reading a lot of books lately to help expand my mind and hopefully improve my teaching. I have been fascinated lately by books written by psychologist that are not necessarily education books but their findings have huge implication in the education world. Two of the books are Drive by Daniel Pink and Mindset by Carol Dweck. I will write more thoughts on these took books later but I wanted to share an RSA animation of Daniel Pink's talk about Drive. It is a great introduction into his book. I am also fascinated by RSA Animate. It is truly impressive.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tool #5

The first tool I used was Prezi. I am working on creating an Prezi to introduce the big 3 questions my year will revolve around in both AP and General Chemistry. It is not finished yet but I am enjoying learning the program. I am also excited about the capability of sharing it with others and having them edit it. I think it could be a neat way to create classroom brainstorming mind maps and then be able to see it in a slide show with the whole class. It could be a neat way to follow everybody's thinking. Here is the start of my Prezi slide show:

The second tool I used was Wordle. I could see this being useful to help students find a main idea in a reading. Here is a snap shot of my Wordle using a summary of Daniel Pink's book, Drive.
Wordle: Drive Summary by Daniel Pink

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tool #4

I have used Google Docs in several ways in the past. I have used it among colleagues to collaborate in a group setting and also when I have wanted feedback on something I am working on. I have also used the Googles Doc Form before to get feedback from colleagues on a new initiative we had started at Northbrook. In my classroom I used Google Docs presentation to create a class review slide show. Each pair created one of the slides and then we put them all together to create a class study guide. 

I plan to do more with Google Docs in the future. It was nice to have everything saved on the computer and accessed anywhere. I hope to explore more of the Apps available besides Docs, Blogger and Reader. I believe that it can be an instrumental tool in our classroom since all students have access to the apps.

Tool #3

1. YouTube is usually where I go to search for videos first. It is easy to navigate and familiar to me. I also like that Discovery Education has videos where you can just download segments of videos. Another website that I have  used videos from is NBC Learn, especially from Chemistry Now.

2. One of my goals next year is for my students to become more autonomous. For some students, I think access to videos over the content could be a helpful way for them to learn chemistry. A teacher who goes by the name Chemistry Guy has created many chemistry videos directed at general and AP chem. Many of them can be found on YouTube. This one is on atomic theory. One of our first AP chem topics.

Through his website ( you can also find access to his videos. Another resource like this would be Khan Academy. While I don't see these as a primary teaching method for the classroom, I see them as great supplements and extra resources for students. 

Another way I use videos is to show experiments or demos that are more dangerous. Though some can be done in the classroom, I sometimes get nervous. I need to create a safe demo environment so I can do some more live. 

3. I am still confused by the Copyright laws. But I think I have a basic understanding that if I don't impede the owners ability to make money from it and use small pieces of copyrighted material for teaching or critique I should be okay.

4. Creating a Dropbox account was very simple. I can see this as an easy way to share important files with students so the don't have to be in my classroom to get an extra copy. It can also become a way to reduce the amount of paper in my classroom and have students share files with me.

Thoughts on literacy...

When I began teaching at Northbrook High School four years ago, I entered a high school with a high percentage of English language learners in which I had the task of teaching chemistry to --a whole new language itself. With this new challege and a desire to give my students my best, my fascination and interest in literacy began. How could I as a chemistry teacher help students with both general English literacy and scientific literacy?

This summer my fascination continues and I have begun reading a book entitled, The Right to Literacy in Secondary Schools: Creating a Culture of Thinking. (It is edited by Suzanne Plaut.)

Here are a couple of her opening thoughts:
    "Our youth are truly free only when they are fully literate--when they are able to not only observe but comprehend, and not only comprehend but evaluate, or take a critical stance; when they can ask about the author's or source's bias and viewpoints, note which voices are silenced or discounted, examine issues from alternative perspectives, and take action on the basis of what they have learned (McLaughlin and DeVoogd, 2004). Then they can analyze, evaluate, critique and question text. 
    Adolescents have the right to such literacy. They have a right to schooling conditions that empower them to achieve it. And they have a right to what that literacy makes possible for them within and beyond school."

Again, I have only just begun reading but I am excited to continue reading and see what I comprehend, evaluate, critique and question as I go. I hope to increase my literacy to better foster literacy of my students in the upcoming school year. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tool #2

I had started a Google Reader a long time ago but forgot about it. It was nice to be reminded of it again. I took this opportunity to update my reader and subscribed to blogs I visit frequently and delete blogs that are no longer of interested to me. It is nice to have all of your blogs collected in one place and for reader to keep track of when they are update for you. I plan to visit my Google reader much more often now.

I have a goal for myself to change to Standard based grading next school year. The following are a couple of blogs I have been reading to help become better informed about how teachers implement it in their classrooms.
Blog #1:
Blog #2:
Blog #3:

I hope to use my blog as a way to share my journey into standard based grading and the development of a more autonomous classroom (motivated by reading the book Drive by Daniel Pink).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tool #1

With new technology arriving in our classroom this fall, our district is having us work through 11 different lesson to expose us to technology that can be integrated into our classroom. I will be posting about my discoveries about each of the "tools" as I go. Below is the response for the first tool.

I have created a blog before using Blogger so I did not find it challenging. I have learned that choosing a short, concise url that I can easily remember is beneficial. I found it easy to create and embed a Voki though I am not crazy about them. I am not sure I want a cartoon like figure on my blog and would rather have a normal picture of myself. I am excited to see what else I can learn though as I make my way through the 11 tools.